Story originally posted in FederationFive on April 10, 2018
It’s April, the scent of spring is in the air. Once again, I spent my Passover holiday at our beautiful Ramah Darom campus in Clayton, as I have since 2002, celebrating with more than 400 people who have become part of my extended family. But this year was different. After spending almost nineteen years of my professional life with Ramah Darom, and with my 70th birthday approaching, I will be retiring in September. I am proud to have been able to be work with so many others in building Ramah Darom into an organization that has contributed to Atlanta’s remarkable Jewish landscape. I was reminded just how exceptional this community is a few months ago when, as part of the Jewish Federation of Atlanta’s Front Porch Initiative, I was privileged to participate in the Community Leadership Israel Learning Journey. In sharing that journey with 70 professional and lay leaders, representing the full breadth of organizations serving our Jewish community, I came to appreciate, even more, the richness of our communal resources and the tremendous work that is being done day in and day out here in Atlanta.
In my nearly two decades at Ramah Darom, I’ve had the great fortune of working with a tremendously talented professional staff and an energetic and involved group of volunteer leaders whose focus has been on building an educated and engaged Jewish community. I have been privileged to be part of a chevra (community) that understands that our special gift, our Judaism, is one that cannot be taken for granted. We share responsibility for each other, our identity, and our future.
What we have accomplished at Ramah Darom since opening in 1997 gives me hope for the future of the Atlanta Jewish community. Many Camp Ramah Darom alumni have made Atlanta their home. They are active participants in Jewish life and can be found volunteering and devoting themselves to a variety of Jewish organizations community-wide. Some of these inspirational young leaders are helping to transform our community by taking on professional roles in Jewish communal service — young people like Rabbi Ari Kaiman, at Shearith Israel;Rabbi Hillel Konigsburg, at Congregation B’nai Torah; Robbie Medwed, at the Epstein School; Marc Silberstein, at Ahavath Achim Synagogue; Hannah Gutterman Spinrad, at Honeymoon Israel; Shira Rothman Hahn, at One Table; Nathan Brodsky, at Jewish Federation of Atlanta; and Leah Berkowitz Gross at the American Jewish Committee, to name a few.
Ramah Darom has also enriched our community by providing a magnificent spiritual retreat space. Our 122-acre Clayton campus, just two hours outside of Atlanta, is home to a growing year-round series of Ramah Darom programs, including jointly sponsored events like PJ Library’s Book It to Shabbat, and Limmud Atlanta Southeast’s annual LimmudFest. It provides Jewish groups and organizations a place for learning, events, and community building. Our outstanding Camp Ramah Darom has become a model of what it means to be an inclusive community, with our Tikvah Support Program and our nationally-recognized Camp Yofi for families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
I leave Ramah Darom proud that it has become part of the fabric of this community’s Jewish life, and confident that it will continue to enrich this community as Atlanta continues to evolve as a vibrant center of Jewish life.
Please Save The Date to Celebrate Fred
August 19, 2018, Congregation B’nai Torah, Atlanta, Georgia.
Click on the image of Fred above for more details.